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November 18, 2009

A visual feast: 9

Shane Acker plunges into a full-length remake of his 2005 award winning short of the same name. An apocalyptic world is something Hollywood evidently loves, what with the recent release of 2012 and countless other apocalyptic adventures.

The Plot: ‘9’ is set in a post-apocalyptic world where all humans are extinct. We meet ‘9’, a rag doll with life, given sentience by the humans. The purpose of this gift is unknown to us. The world around ‘9’ is barren, lonely and scary. Corpses and debris fill the landscape, and there’s an enemy around. The last of the machines is still activated, on a vicious mission to destroy any life forms.

From the very outset, it is clear that this is not a feel-good animation movie for kids. It’s dark and scary. At times, the story does feel predictable, but the innovative setting and slick action more than makes up for it. The roots of ‘9’ lie closer to ‘Terminator Salvation’ than ‘Wall-E’. What makes ‘9’ different from other post-apocalyptic flicks is its strange set of characters/creatures. The last time a doll was the main character in a movie, Chucky was tearing up unsuspecting kids with a knife.

The Visuals: Brilliant. The imagery on show is the best aspect of ‘9’. It wouldn’t have counted for too much in any other film; but as it is an animation flick, you have to give it the plaudits it deserves. The landscape, the machines, the dolls; everything is extremely well-eked out.

The Cast: It’s hard to go wrong with actors like Christopher Plummer, Elijah Wood, Martin Landau and John C. Reilly. The voice acting is indeed very good, especially by Plummer in the patriarchal role of ‘1’. He brings an air of self-assumed grandeur to the character that you feel like shaking him by the scruff and making him listen to 9. Full credit must go to the cast for making the dolls believable.

The Verdict: 9 is visually stunning, and has a good story to boot. Watch it on the big screen if you can, but do watch it. 3.5 out of 5.


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